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Well, that was fast.
New England Patriots receiver Josh Gordon, who was suspended late last season for another violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, has been reinstated by the NFL, the league announced on Friday. Gordon applied for reinstatement early this month, according to reports. He can be at the team facility on Sunday, though he can’t play in next Thursday’s preseason game. It seemed the process might take a while, but Gordon is back with a few weeks to go before the regular season starts.
With that news, the Patriots get their most talented receiver back on the field, big news for a group that was set to rely on younger players.
NFL’s official statement: ‘Rooting for Josh’
Here’s the NFL’s official statement:
“Commissioner Roger Goodell notified Josh Gordon of the New England Patriots that he will be reinstated to the NFL on a conditional basis.
“Effective Sunday, Gordon may rejoin the Patriots to attend meetings and engage in conditioning work and individual workouts.
“Subject to appropriate progress on clinical care and other arrangements, he will be permitted to participate in team activities including practice. Because he will not have had sufficient conditioning and practice time, however, he may attend but may not play in the Patriots' Thursday, August 22 game.
"‘We are all rooting for Josh to succeed, both personally and professionally,’ said Goodell. ‘Everyone shares in that hope and will continue to support him to every extent possible. But as Josh acknowledged, ultimately his success is up to him.’
“Gordon had been suspended indefinitely since December of 2018 for violations of the NFL-NFLPA Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.”
Josh Gordon has been suspended multiple times
Gordon has a long history of getting in trouble off the field, going all the way back to his college days. He also led the NFL in receiving yards, all the way back in 2013, and is one of the most physically gifted receivers in the game.
The talent is why the Cleveland Browns were patient through multiple suspensions. They ran out of patience last year and traded Gordon to the Patriots. Gordon had 720 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games for the Patriots, but late in the season he said he was leaving the team for mental health reasons. Shortly after, reports surfaced that he had another violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He was indefinitely suspended, the fifth time he’d been suspended by the NFL.
His status for this year was mostly a mystery, until Friday evening.
Patriots get a huge boost
The Patriots always seem to make it work, no matter who is catching passes from Tom Brady. But this season it looked thin.
Julian Edelman was by far the most reliable returning receiver. Top tight end Rob Gronkowski had retired. Maurice Harris and undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers have been impressing in camp, but they’re no sure things.
Gordon comes with his own risks. Amazingly, he has not played 16 games in a season since his rookie season of 2012, and has only 36 games in his last six seasons. That’s almost entirely due to suspensions.
But the risk is worth the reward for the Patriots. For now, Gordon is back for the defending champions.
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